How to Buy Vintage : Vintage Clothing Show

Wade Huth Photo

Antique & Vintage Clothing. Oh! The cut, the fabric, the workmanship. There is nothing like it. This weekend I was lucky enough to go to The Vintage Clothing Show in Burbank. So many treasures to see, from Victorian Laces to 1920′s Flapper Style dresses and hats, to 1950′s dresses. A sprinkling of celebrities with their assistants and/or stylists shopped this show, but mainly other treasure seekers delighted in the wonderful treats.

Suzy Parker in a glorious 1950′s dress.

With so many vintage fashions to choose from, how do you know what to buy, and what to pass by? Here are some tips for buying vintage clothing:

1. Decide what makes your heart sing: What colors and styles are you most drawn towards? Are you going to wear your vintage clothing, or are you going to buy pieces just to collect? If you are going to want to wear your vintage finds, you want to look for clothes that are sturdy, and won’t be damaged by average use. Avoid the frail, check seams and also ask the dealer if they think their piece is actually wearable. Then size and fit are important, so ask to try on the piece. If you are going to collect, not wear the clothing, fraility isn’t as much a factor, nor is size. To display your pre-1920s pieces, buy extra-small mannequins or antique dress forms. If you are buying with an eye toward future value or resale, try not to purchase too many tiny sizes. Larger ones are easier to display and have more value if the item can still be worn. {I am always amazed at the sizes of the waists on Victorian and Edwardian dresses and blouses.}

2. Have a Budget: Just because it’s old, it doesn’t mean it’s inexpensive.   There is a range of pricing, even at the same vintage show.  Taking a quick once around the show is a good idea to get the feeling of which vendors are very expensive, and which vendors have great prices or will go down a little for you. If you are in love with a known designer piece, be ready to pay a dear sum.  {Don’t get so caught up in the excitement and buy a designer piece just because it’s a designer name, unless you are purchasing it for an investment.}  Will you wear it?  How many times?  It’s easy to get carried away, so really think about what you want to spend beforehand. {all rules go out the window if you find something you just can’t ever find again, or fall completely in love with.} 

Vogue-Balenciaga

3.  Know Your Measurements:  Clothing sizes, especially for women’s clothing has changed dramatically over the years. Clothes ran much smaller 50 years ago, so don’t be surprised if your size in vintage is quite a bit larger than what you normally wear in today’s clothes. It’s not the number that matters, but how it fits!  You should have your measurements written down on a card or notebook or on your phone for bust, hips, natural waist, inseam, shoulders etc.

4. Dress for Trying On:  Make sure to wear clothing that you can easily try things on over. At most shows, you will be trying on things in the bathroom, or on one side of the booth.  Wear a skirt or pants that are easy to take off, and a t-shirt or tank that you can try things over.  Ask the dealer if you can try the item on first, then carefully try it after you have taken the measurements.  Be sure before you purchase a piece that look it over carefully. Check for stains, if it looks like it’s been there for years, you most likely won’t be able to remove it.  Check the seams for damage, a split seam that can be fixed is fine, but if there are any holes anywhere else, be sure you want to cover it with a pin or applique.

 

5. Take Cash: Many vendors prefer cash. Some may take credit cards, and a rare dealer will take a check. {most likely only if they know you and you’ve bought from them before.}  I usually take cash, that way I know how much I have left in my budget. And then only use my credit card for the “I MUST have this” pieces I find. {My must haves for this show were some to die for French Black Alencon Lace yardage, a complete Victorian Wedding Tiara with hanging Wax streamers, and Victorian Feathered Fans.}

Do you wear vintage clothes? What, and how do you mix it with your current warderobe?  Tell me about your favorite finds ~

If you want to romance your Home and Garden with antique and vintage treasures to make you smile each time you come home, visit our shop FrenchGardenHouse.

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4 Comments

  1. Betsey Johnson
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Very great post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to mention that I’ve really loved browsing your blog posts. After all I will be subscribing on your feed and I’m hoping you write again soon!

  2. B.
    Posted July 1, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    Such incredible tips for buying or selling vintage, they have all worked wonderfully well. Also I truly believe you need to be into what you are selling, have passion in what you do and it will follow through.

  3. Selina
    Posted November 27, 2013 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    Outstanding post but I was wondering if you could
    write a litte more on this subject? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit more.
    Bless you!

  4. Candy
    Posted January 22, 2014 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    I love vintage clothes, they are so cute and trendy. Thanks for sharing this blog post here, great tips.

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